From the Pastor's Desk:
A Note From the Vicar
(April 1, 2018)
C.S. Lewis like so many others recognized that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was something entirely new from anything in history.
It is such a completely unique event that it demands a response from all who hear of it. Sharing that message is our privilege and duty. Eternity rests on our response to the resurrection.
Something perfectly new in the history of the universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door, which had always been locked, had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don't mean that [the first disciples] disbelieved in ghost-survival. On the contra-ry, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new. The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe; as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into 'ghost' and 'corpse'. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?
--C. S. Lewis, "What Are We To Make of Jesus Christ?" from God in the Dock.
A Note From the Vicar
Lent has a way of stripping away distractions and helping us remember what is most important.
I’ve been reflecting on the purpose of church: why has the Lord called us out? (The Greek word for church means “called out ones.”) What is his foremost aim? What is most important? In his first letter, Peter wrote a statement that is both soaring and simple, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Note the precious words he uses: chosen, royal, holy, belonging to God. No words could better describe the position of extraordinary privilege given us in Christ: we are stunningly blessed.
But that position has a role: we get to declare, to proclaim the praises/excellencies of the One who did the calling. So we have been called by God to declare—in word and action—the praises of our rescuer. It’s another way of saying, share the “good news.”
That is what disciples/followers of Jesus do.
Thankfully, we are not alone. We have one another to help us and encourage us. Best of all, we have the Holy Spirit of God to guide us and strengthen us.
Come, Holy Spirit of God and rekindle our first love for your saving grace in our lives so that our words and our ways draw attention to the One who has called us out of darkness into his light. Amen.
Guard Your Heart With Gratitude
(November 23, 2017)
It seems that commercials and advertisements are in collusion against us this time of year.
Even though they feature smiling faces and joy-filled moments, in actuality their aim is to make us unhappy, to make us dissatisfied with what we don't have.To safeguard your heart, brandish gratitude: thank God for what you have as well as for the simple gifts he gives us day after day.
“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Keep the flame of gratitude in your hearts. It will lighten your darkness.I am so very grateful for each of you and pray God's grace and peace for you this Thanksgiving.
National Day of Prayer
(May 3, 2017)
From the earliest days of our country, various leaders have set aside special days for prayer and fasting.
It is a gift of grace to have such an event take place in our day.
National events are good things.......but the most important action that is needed is genuine prayer, not talk. So I encourage you to pray tomorrow, the first Thursday in May, asking that the Lord of the Harvest will make you and me laborers in his harvest while it is yet day. God bless you as you pray.
No Greater Love
(April 14, 2017)
What is Love?
Wikipedia has an answer for, it seems, every question. Since it is an open source site which allows anyone to contribute, it is, as one of my seminary professors warned, to be used with great caution. However, I think it is a fairly reliable reflection of current cultural attitudes and views in America and the West in general.
So here is Wikipedia's first sentence of the definition of love: "Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection ("I love my mother") to pleasure ("I loved that meal")." It is not surprising that the first descriptor used is "feelings." That is the overwhelming perspective of our day. It suffuses most novels, movies, songs, and art. But Good Friday sees love differently.
Before his passion, Jesus spoke at length with his disciples in the Upper Room. John recounts the words in his Gospel (chapters 14-16). As you read them, you will notice that Jesus frequently turns to the theme of love: some form of the word occurs 22 times. Among them are these words, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
How can love be commanded? If love is primarily feelings, it seems impossible. Yet Jesus sees love differently. He speaks of love as a willful action toward someone else without regard to self. Feelings are not required. In fact, they may pose a problem.
What Jesus did in going to the cross was the greatest act of love in history. Jesus, God incarnate, laid down his life for his friends........and his enemies.
I pray that the love displayed on Good Friday may move you and shape your heart and mine.